Former Judges Club head: Revolution has yet to reach judiciary

Reforms introduced by the 25 January revolution have yet to reach the judiciary, said Zakareya Abdel Aziz, former head of the Judges Club, at a forum held in Heliopolis.

The judiciary, he said, “tends to be conservative, rather than revolutionary, even though it has its revolutionaries.

"The entire judiciary is not independent, though it has independent judges.”

Abdel Aziz added that members of the Supreme Judicial Council should be elected and the minister of justice should have no power over judges.

Judges should not be allowed to perform jobs outside their field, he said. “A judge cannot be an advisor to an imprisoned minister,” he said, and judges should not advise governors or companies either. “A judge should only work in court.”

Abdel Aziz called for a fairer salary system, and for prisons to fall under control of the justice ministry.

He criticized the fact that several officials and judges from ex-president Hosni Mubarak’s regime have remained in their positions for years, citing the former chief of presidential staff as an example.

Asked about accusations of partiality leveled at some judges currently handling cases against Mubarak regime figures, Abdel Aziz said that if there are such fears, a plaintiff may ask for a judge to be replaced.

Abdel Aziz also said he does not see why judges should not engage in politics, saying that this goes against human nature, and he himself participated in the protests in Tahrir Square.

Regarding the pace of trying Mubarak regime figures, he said even though people perceive them as proceeding slowly, he thinks they are going at a reasonable pace and asked people not to ask for expedited or exceptional trials.

He also said the revolution came five to six years late, and Egyptians were boiling over due to suppression by the security apparatus. They were being patient in the hope that “tomorrow would be better.”

He said that Egyptians may not make the right choices in the upcoming elections, but he expects their choices to improve in the future, describing the current phase as experimental. “Demolishing an entire building is much easier than building a single storey.”

Finally, Abdel Aziz said elections should not be conducted on the basis of a constitutional declaration. He suggested the formation of a presidential panel of four civilians and one military personality to rule for a one-year transitional period, provided they pledge not to run for any positions in the elections. He also proposed setting up a committee to formulate a new constitution.

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